Assuredly you have read the news that this is a lost season for the New York Mets?

With Cliff Lee signing with Philadelphia, the Phillies have all but locked up the N.L. East. And with Johan Santana missing most, if not all of 2011, Carlos Beltran limping around on two balky knees, and the Mets signing scrapheap free agents in the winter, this is not the season to expect anything from the Mets.

This much you know already, right?

Well, I’m here to inject some enthusiasm and optimism as hope springs eternal.

With two weeks to go before opening day, the Mets are flying under the radar while pundits have set the bar real low when it comes to expectations for the team. This is in stark contrast to the last five years when the Mets were expected to contend for division titles and in some instances World Championships.

How about we give this team a chance before we declare them dead? We’re not talking about a moribund franchise like the Pirates or Royals, who we can almost officially count out before the season starts.

I know it must seem like a leap of faith to hope for healthy and productive seasons from the likes of Santana, Beltran, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay, Chris Young and Chris Capuano. But you never know right?

It’s not too much of a stretch for guys like Jose Reyes (who is playing for a new contract) and David Wright to have career years.

It’s not such a wild idea that Bay can get back to where he was prior to joining the Mets, when he was a perennial 30-home run 100-RBI guy? One bad season does not define a player.

I also think it’s normal to expect players like Angel Pagan, Ike Davis and Josh Thole to take the next step and make natural progressions in their games.

Now, I must say that it would behoove the Mets to get production from second base (whoever that may be) as well as get solid years from pitchers R.A. Dickey, Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese.

A lot of this hope falls on the arms of the aforementioned pitchers. Not a lot is expected out of this trio. It is paramount that the Mets once again get consistent production from the staff, including a return to form from Francisco Rodriguez at the back-end of the bullpen.

Sure, a lot has to go right for the Mets season to be considered a success. But, after being accustomed to everything going wrong, perhaps with new leadership in General Manager Sandy Alderson and new manager Terry Collins, things could bounce the Mets way for once.

I’m not here to say that the Mets will challenge the Phillies or the Braves for that matter, but this team is no pushover and could, with the keyword being could, make a run at the wildcard. The Mets have talent, and with new leadership, maybe change is on the horizon.

It’s never a bad thing to dream, and it’s with that glass half-full mentality that Met great Tug McGraw rallied the Mets faithful into never giving up.

With that said, “Ya gotta believe!”

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